I hadn't heard this album since I was seventeen (and I won't say when that was) until I noticed that it was still available on CD, and bought a copy. Well, it was barmy then, and it's barmy now. Anyone who, upon listening to it, isn't immediately transported to a better, simpler, more imaginative and contemplative world needs to make contact with their inner child/hippy as a matter of some urgency. Dated? How can it be dated? It's as timeless as Adam and Eve or Winnie the Pooh! Profound? Who knows? Who cares? Just soak in the atmosphere. You may find that it is an acquired taste, being rather slow and lacking in the driving electronic rhythms we've been bombarded with over the past thirty-five years, but do give it a go.
on 20 December 2011
This is by far their best album, apart from a fantastic Elektra compliation (a US import) of the early 70s, and comes like an alien transmission beamed directly from a time before the public began to tire of them, and the boys tired of each other. Never huge sellers, but I certainly remember staring in early-teenaged awe at the fantastic and slightly scary album covers they had for their first albums.
With the benefit of hindsight, we've come to hear plenty of other folky, psych-folk oddball acts from the era. But other wanna-bes never quite got the right mix of whimsy, humour, innocence and wisdom.
And this is a great album that shows off their strengths (the beautiful Koeeaddi There and Witches Hat), and their weaknesses (Bits of Cellular song are unfortunately embedded in this old hippy's long-term memory; I wish it wasn't!). Rambling, whimsical,maybe. But I'd take them any day over any of the confessional singer songwriters that infest the charts at present. Perhaps the only band to which I'd wish the famous words of Bob Dylan: May you stay forever young. They should have been maintained at government expense in a little wooded cottage in a fairy glen... and forbidden to renter the world! But, alas...
on 24 April 2011
This was the third of The ISB's releases and came after the dazzling and groudbreaking 5000 Spirits which was described as a sort of folk Sgt Pepper. So there must have been pressure to maintain the standard. The genius of the band was that the result is so heartfelt, playful and original without a trace of recycling former successes.
The album is musically as outstanding a piece of work as anything produced in popular music. Textures are created or borrowed from other cultures and times for precise purposes, lovely melodies blossom seemingly at random, harmonies and arrangements surprise and delight whilst lyrics haunt and provoke or simply make you smile.
Soemthing that also strikes me is that it is a great album in the sense of using the vinyl format in a brilliant way with sequencing, timing and light and shade all seamlessly executed.
When I first heard this album I felt that my musical world had changed and maybe my life too. I was not wrong.
on 11 January 2005
They don't make them like this anymore! 'The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter' is a great 60's album filled with a creative openness, authentic feeling and an unrestrained experimentation.
The opening track 'Koeeoaddi There' encapsulates all of these qualities. Williamson tells an evocative tale of childhood, backed with melodic, inventive chord and tempo changes. 'The Minotour's Song' is a startling contrast of music hall and greek mtyhological lyrics, highlighting the ISB's influences. 'Witch's Hat' has a beautiful folk melody, again the song structure packed with incident. Mike Heron's 'A Very Cellular Song' begins as an old gospel hymn before it travels the world in its wonderful array of instruments, an early bridge between western music and world music in general. Heron's Dylanesque 'Mercy I Cry City' is a poetic rant against the unnatural prison of the urban landscape. 'Waltz Of The New Moon' harks back again to the Romantic poets in its ode to the wonders of the natural landscape. Here the harp sound is at once lilting and glorious. Like 'A Very Cellular Song', 'The Water Song' sings a hymn to the evolutionary power of the natural world using strange and unusual instruments to create the onomatopoeic sounds of water. The most Eastern-tinged of the tracks on the album is 'There Is A Green Crown' telling another tale of natural wonder that I can't help thinking would be frowned upon and scorned in today's irony-laden culture. On 'Swift As The Wind' Heron tells of how the grown-ups around him tried to make him give up his childhood imagination, something that has obviously remained with him throughout his musical career.
Williamson's 'Nightfall' closes this adorable album mixing Eastern sounds with the American south, prefiguring Ry Cooder by a number of years.
on 18 September 2006
I was about 16 when I heard this album at my friend's house shortly after it was released in the 60's. I had never heard anything like it and to this day I love the sheer sense of adventure and the ease with which they mix styles, tempos, key changes, instrumentation. And there is some wonderful imagery: "wearing black cherries for rings" (Witches Hat) and "Nightfall...folding her dark locks around you" - great stuff. What is amazing is the richness of the music, instrumentation and poetry from a duo who were still very young when they made it. Buy it and let it soak in - warm and innocent music which still sounds fresh and adventurous.
on 11 August 2010
The third album was a significant step deeper into the uncharted forest of folk psychedelia, to the point where things were beginning to get serious.
Under normal circumstances I'd be giving this a full five star rating but I very much regret that I can't give it the whole handful on this occasion. Of all the four issues in this remastered series this is the most disappointing on account of a sound that goes a bit furry on some of the vocal registers, which is a little irritating to be frank. Then there are the first 11 seconds of 'A Very Cellular Song": The action is taking place in just one channel with nothing going on in the other except some low-level leakage which had been barely audible on the original vinyl release. Now it can be clearly heard and that too is a little irritating on repeated plays. I'm pretty sure I've not got hold of a faulty copy here, so I think it a shame that the remastering on this record falls short of matching the stunning quality of Wee Tam & The Big Huge. In all other respects, however, this album is a classic and it's good to see Dolly Collins receive a printed credit for her keyboard contributions- well deserved & long overdue.
on 20 March 2004
NUMBER 5 IN THE ALBUM CHARTS IN 1968!!
Now, what about that for an album with lyrics like "If I were a witch's hat, sitting on her head like a paraffin stove" and "I hear that the Emperor of China used to wear iron shoes with ease;We are the tablecloth, and also the table;also the fable of the dancing leaves"?
Just goes to show we baby-boomers had a damn sight more musical appreciation sense than we've been given credit for! This is, granted, the most mysterious, wordy, other-wordly of the Incredibles albums, but it NEVER loses its' way musically, even in the key and tempo changes abounding in Williamson's opening Keoaddii There or Heron's 12 minute A very Cellular song, which, over 15 years on, Talking Heads adopted as a concert closer-now you know David Byrne was no fool either.
The best bit about this is you don't need to be any of these things to enjoy this-stoned/hippy/old/living dead. It probably goes without saying that the duo's instumentational abilities are great on any of their first 4 albums-this being the 3rd-but here the sheer variety of what they play and what they get out of those instruments defies belief. You could almost listen to the album for that alone, or for the poetry of the lyrics.
Better still, buy it & do both together-you'll be unlikely to have a richer musical experience, unless you've got a Mozart-like prodigy in your sprogs, or nieces/nephews! As I'm not selling it, I can't offer you your money back if disappointed, but I can guarantee you won't be!!!
on 17 May 2010
I had this on Vinyl from the day it came out and must have played it hundreds of times, but that was back then. Because I don't play my vinyl any more, I probably hadn't listened to this for 20 years and felt a little nervous ordering the CD from Amazon. Would it sound dreadfully dated and corny and crush all my fond memories of it and the Incredibles in general?
I need not have worried; it still sounds as fresh and delightful as the day I first heard it and every song on it is beautiful with some delightful and unusual instrumentation, wonderful,evocative and sensitive lyrics and eerily haunting vocals.
I could do without the odd kazoo here and there (now that DOES sound dated!!) but otherwise, the whole thing is a triumph and an evocative intoduction to the work of these two singular and unique songwriters.
Do take a listen and be transported back to a simpler, more energised time.
on 9 December 2009
A classic, classic album that gets in your blood like few others, so the opening notes of 'Koeeoaddi There' always summon a timeless nostalgia, timeless yet constantly changing, and an atmosphere of early childhood where, as Ernst Junger put it, "the dark gate which separates us from our timeless homeland" has only recently been shut, and "the child still understands the language of the runes of Things, which tell of a profound brotherhood of essences..."
Some of the lyrics read like they were written by a child, but this is deceptive - on repeated reading/listening their subtlety and sophistication is revealed. Some songs are serious, others great fun - and some are both. But don't mistake this for a 'serious playfulness' of the type a Steiner school advocate might endorse - it's far more anarchic than that, anarchic to the point of transcendence.
The songs are wonderfully varied, but all feel totally at home on this disc. 'A Very Cellular Song' takes things down to the level of the unicellular organism, while 'Mercy I Cry City' exposes the shallowness and superficiality of modern 'civilisation'. 'Swift as the Wind' tells of the numinous realm of gods and heroes from the point of view of a child who is told to "stop imagining things", "for your own good." But the child resolves not to shut his mind to the numinous, even as he realises he must live on a mundane level from day to day. 'Nightfall' and 'The Water Song' are beautiful tributes to night and water respectively.
I give this album five stars - only awarded when I consider a work of art to be essentially beyond criticism, and where even the 'faults' contribute to the timeless miracle of the whole. Albums like this don't come along every day.
on 16 February 2011
This is not strictly a review of the content of this album, as there are many other excellent reviews on the topic.
However, I wanted to give some praise to the quality of the 2010 remaster which sounds warm and vibrant at last. The previous 1992 release on cd had a tinny thin sound to it, without any of the musicality of the original l.p. This reissue restores much of what was missing from the previous issue. There is a real clarity to the sound which I believe is excellent.
Hangman's has always been quirky but previously it was hard to listen to because of the high top-end to the sound. If you are thinking of upgrading then I would, despite some other review comments on here, really recommend this. It sounds particularly good on decent equipment too, though don't expect to 'get' it straight away if you are new to ISBs work, as they are certainly left-field and a little ahead of their time, even today.